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Rural Livelihood Strategies in Cambodia: Evidence from a household survey in Stung Treng


  • Bühler, Dorothee
  • Grote, Ulrike
  • Hartje, Rebecca
  • Ker, Bopha
  • Lam, Do Truong
  • Nguyen, Loc Duc
  • Nguyen, Trung Thanh
  • Tong, Kimsun


The overall objective of this discussion paper is to advance the knowledge on rural livelihoods in Stung Treng, Cambodia. In a cluster analysis, five clusters with very different livelihood strategies are identified based on a sample of 600 rural households. Despite the fact that nearly all households are engaged in some form of subsistence farming, especially by growing rice, the richer clusters build on self-employment and higher-skilled wage employment. In contrast the middle income cluster mainly depends on natural resources (fish and firewood). The poorer two clusters are engaged in lowerskilled wage employment. The incidence of poverty is widespread but differences between the clusters are clearly visible. Even the better-off households have consumption poverty headcount ratios of between 37 to 50% at PPP $1.25. For households from the poorest clusters the poverty headcount ratio amounts to even 70% for income and 80% for consumption. Especially the households largely depending on natural resource extraction are characterized by a high incidence of poverty and high vulnerability. In addition, there are a number of pressures which are expected to increase poverty problems in the future. Policies aimed at reducing poverty and improving rural livelihoods need to carefully consider the close linkages between rural livelihoods and natural resources. But also a diversification away from natural resource extraction into higher-skilled jobs is found to be a strategy opening up new opportunities to improve livelihood security and raise the living standards of the poor.

Suggested Citation

  • Bühler, Dorothee & Grote, Ulrike & Hartje, Rebecca & Ker, Bopha & Lam, Do Truong & Nguyen, Loc Duc & Nguyen, Trung Thanh & Tong, Kimsun, 2015. "Rural Livelihood Strategies in Cambodia: Evidence from a household survey in Stung Treng," Working Papers 200207, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ubonwp:200207

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frank Ellis, 1998. "Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 1-38.
    2. Øystein Juul Nielsen & Santosh Rayamajhi & Patricia Uberhuaga & Henrik Meilby & Carsten Smith-Hall, 2013. "Quantifying rural livelihood strategies in developing countries using an activity choice approach," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 44(1), pages 57-71, January.
    3. World Bank, 2013. "Where Have All the Poor Gone? : Cambodia Poverty Assessment 2013," World Bank Other Operational Studies 17546, The World Bank.
    4. Franke, Maria, 2014. "When one country's land gain is another country's land loss...: The social, ecological and economic dimensions of sand extraction in the context of world-systems analysis exemplified by Singapore's sa," IPE Working Papers 36/2014, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    5. Babulo, Bedru & Muys, Bart & Nega, Fredu & Tollens, Eric & Nyssen, Jan & Deckers, Jozef & Mathijs, Erik, 2008. "Household livelihood strategies and forest dependence in the highlands of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 147-155, September.
    6. Frank Ellis, 2000. "The Determinants of Rural Livelihood Diversification in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 289-302.
    7. Wiesmann, Doris & Bassett, Lucy & Benson, Todd & Hoddinott, John, 2009. "Validation of the world food programme's food consumption score and alternative indicators of household food security:," IFPRI discussion papers 870, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Ellis, Frank, 2000. "Rural Livelihoods and Diversity in Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296966, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Husmann, Christine & von Braun, Joachim & Badiane, Ousmane & Akinbamijo, Yemi & Abiodun, Fatunbi Oluwole & Virchow, Detlef, 2015. "Tapping Potentials of Innovation for Food Security and Sustainable Agricultural Growth: An Africa-Wide Perspective," Working Papers 228855, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    2. Mbaye, Linguere Mously & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2016. "Natural Disasters and Human Mobility," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 10(1), pages 37-56, November.
    3. Nguyen, Trung Thanh & Do, Truong Lam & Bühler, Dorothee & Hartje, Rebecca & Grote, Ulrike, 2015. "Rural livelihoods and environmental resource dependence in Cambodia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 282-295.

    More about this item


    Livelihoods; Rural Poverty; Cluster Analysis; Diversification; Cambodia; Environmental Economics and Policy; Labor and Human Capital; J23; J43; N55; R23; Q12;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • N55 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Asia including Middle East
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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